Cultivating A Growth Mindset

There have been a lot of conversations around the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.  This is a simple concept that has the ability to make a HUGE difference in how one can grow.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with these terms, MindsetOnline.com defines a fixed mindset as the, “belief of basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. [People] spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

A growth mindset is the “belief that most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishments.”

When you read those definitions, I’m sure you had the same thought as me, “ why would anyone want to have a fixed mindset?”  Many people do. Not only do people have a fixed mindset, they use a fixed mindset mentality when discussing potential projects with emerging leaders.

Think about how you can cultivate dialogue with those around you to provide fuel for a growth mindset. As leaders, we have to remember that a lot of times our most important job is to simply believe in the ideas that are brought to our desk by peers, students, and colleagues. Think about a time you brought an idea to a leader and they responded with excitement and encouragement. Remember how it made you that much more excited to take the next step? I bet you left their office with more confidence about yourself and your idea then when you had walked into the office.  These feelings are what we, as leaders, need to create more of in people who trust us with their ideas.

I’ve found that a lot of people have a tendency to hear an idea and immediately state all the ways it might not work, or that a “Plan B” should be created “just in case.”  This type of response doesn’t leave someone excited and encouraged. It doesn’t provide the fuel that develops a growth mindset.  I understand there might be some truth to the “Plan B” mentality, but do you need to bring those thoughts to the table at the very start? Not usually.

When you create an atmosphere that helps the growth mindset, you’re also creating a relationship where people will confide in you.  Once this starts happening, you’ll be able to help them further develop their ideas.

The job of a leader isn’t always to lead. Sometimes the job is to simply look someone in the eyes and tell them that you believe in them.


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